Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Pottery: red-figured hydria.
    Type of birth of Erichthonios. In the centre a female figure of large proportions (Gaia) is seen from the waist upwards rising from the ground, in a chiton and mantle, with long hair confined with a radiated stephane, and bracelets; she looks upwards, holding up in both hands an infant (Dionysos?), who has the usual ornamented cross-belt of Athenian infants. He turns away from her, extending both arms eagerly towards Athene, who, as the Athenian κονροτρόφος, moves forward to receive him into a striped mantle which she holds out in both her hands; she wears a long chiton with a border of ivy-leaves (?) and apoptygma, a mantle rolled up over her shoulders, aegis covered with a scaly pattern, a high crested helmet with crown of scales and high raised cheek-pieces, and bracelets; her hair hangs down in a knot, and her long spear rests against her left shoulder. The crest of her helmet is partly cut off by the border; her spear passes over it. She is accompanied on the right by Nike, who rushes forward, holding out in both hands a large taenia towards the infant; she wears a long chiton, a diploïs spotted, with a fringe below, a mantle over her arms, a radiated stephane, bracelets, and trefoil earrings; her hair hangs down in a club. On the left of Gaia Zeus stands en face, looking down at her with his right on his hip and his left holding up a thunderbolt. He is bearded, and has long hair passed in a plait round the back of his head, a wreath, and a mantle with patterns of triple lines and circles like that which Athene holds. On the left Oinanthè stands, in a long chiton undertied, her hair knotted behind with a fillet, and right hand on hip, leaning with her left hand on Zeus' shoulder, and looking over it at the infant. Above her is inscribed ΟΙΝΑΝΘΕ KAΛE, Οίνάνθη καλή.
    Later and florid stage of large style. Purple ends of taenia, inscription, and fillet of Oinanthè. Brown inner markings, folds of chiton of Gaia, and hair of Dionysos. Eye in transition type. The hands very large and clumsily drawn. The design curves up over the shoulder. Below, a strip of sets of maeander alternate ways divided by red cross squares. Above, a strip of ivy wreath. Round the lip, egg pattern.


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 470BC-460BC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Ware

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Depth: 27.5 millimetres
    • Length: 35 centimetres
    • Height: 37.5 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

  • Curator's comments

    BM Cat. Vases

    De Witte, Descr., No. 109. Gerhard, A.V. iii, pl. 151, p. 3; Él. Cér. i, pl. 85, p. 287; Müller-Wieseler, Denkm. d. a. Kunst, ii, pl. 34, no. 401; Panofka, Eigenn. mit καλός, pl. 2, no. 8, p. 69; Ann. dell’ Inst. 1841, p. 92; Jahn, Arch. Aufs. p. 70; Robert, Arch. Mährchen, cut on p. 191; Wernicke, Lieblingsn. p. 9; Klein, Lieblingsinschr. p. 68; Overbeck, Kunstmyth. (Zeus), p. 28, no. p. (‘Birth of Erichthonios’); C.I.Gr. 7715.
    Nonnus, Dionys. xiv, 225, names Oinanthe as one of the Διωνύσοιο τιθήναι; and she is named among the thiasos of Dionysos on two red-figured vases, C.I.Gr. 7452 and 8381. This figure, the presence of Zeus, and the absence of Kekrops, have suggested the birth of Dionysos as the subject. Robert loc. cit. proposes to identify Gaia as Dirke (cf. ibid. pl. iii). For the grouping of Zeus and Oinanthe cf. Winter, Jung. Att. Vas. p. 24.


  • Bibliography

    • Old Catalogue 749 bibliographic details
    • Vase E182 bibliographic details
    • CVA British Museum 6 III Ic Pl. 85, 1 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2015, 26 Mar-5 Jul, The British Museum, Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art.
    2016, 4 May-4 Sep, Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Athens: The Triumph of Imagery

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number


Pottery: red-figured hydria: Birth of Erichthonios.

Pottery: red-figured hydria: Birth of Erichthonios.

Image description



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Object reference number: GAA7351

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